Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Why I Choose Linux

Filed under
Linux

By Don Crowder

I never liked Windows. My Apple II+, which didn't have a hard drive and had only 48 Kilobytes of RAM, was a dinosaur by comparison to my first Windows machine but the Apple was an old friend who I understood and spent hundreds of pleasurable hours learning how to use. Windows, from the first, seemed unnecessarily complicated, adversarial, and difficult to learn. I learned it but there was little joy in the process. Maybe that's why Linux captured my interest and imagination from the first time I heard about it (back in nineteenmumble) but I was reluctant to just jump in and give it a try because it was difficult to imagine how anything free could truly be any good. After all, you get what you pay for; that's how the world has always worked.

When it became possible to buy a copy of Mandrake or SUSE Linux I avidly read every word I could find and agonized over which I should try and how was I going to get my hands on another computer because I wasn't letting go of my Windows machine until I knew how to use Linux. A few more years passed while I waffled and worried. In the end I resigned myself to becoming a competent, if reluctant, Windows user.

Things started to change when somebody gave us a Ubuntu live CD. Lisa and I enjoyed experimenting with it and later, after we switched from dial-up to DSL I learned how to download ISO files and burn my own live CDs. We tried over a dozen Linux distributions, decided that we both preferred KDE to Gnome and were especially fond of PCLinuxOS.

Using Linux became a doable reality when I lucked into a nice used computer. I installed PCLinuxOS on it, set Lisa up with a KVM switch (sharing her monitor, mouse and keyboard with her XP machine) and went looking for another used computer for me. All I could find (that I could also afford) was an older machine and the nicest distro I could get to run on it was Debian Sarge (via the net install). Sarge required a lot of post-install tweaking but I actually enjoyed learning to use it. For 25 years I was an electronics technician; I enjoy fixing things. It's what I do.

A lot has happened since then. Etch replaced Sarge as the stable version of Debian and Etch doesn't require any of the 'really geeky' post install tweaks but it has it's own set of useful tweaks that enable it do all sorts of things I could never figure out how to do in Sarge. What was once my new Windows machine is running Debian Etch and I have a slightly older, slower machine next to it, running Windows XP (which I almost never turn on anymore). I won't stop using Windows altogether because I have friends, family and a few hundred ezine readers who still use it. I don't want to lose touch with them but I, finally, have other options and that makes me very happy.

If I had no other reason for preferring Linux to Windows, these two would suffice:

1. For the first eighteen months after I started using Linux I didn't know how to install a firewall or anti-virus software so I just did without them and never had a problem. I've since installed both but don't always remember to turn them on. When I do turn them on, they seem to consume only a tiny fraction of my system resources.

2. If I notice anything different after updating my Linux machine it's only that things seem to work a little better and none of my system settings are ever altered in the slightest by updates.

Linux has not only been free, it's paid me rich dividends. I've used Linux for a little over two years and in that time I've learned more about the 'insides' of a computer than I learned in the preceding twenty years. For me, learning something new has always been the best payoff of all.

Sounds familiar...

I, too, was an avid Apple II user, but I followed that up with a Mac. Then it was Windows. The world seemed to all be shifting toward this standardization. No one was going to use anything else. The nails were being put in the Mac's coffin...

My formidable years were spent on Apple II machines. ProDOS...Applesoft BASIC... It was all fun. It was the perfect hobbyist's computer, for the time. But somewhere along the line, someone felt that they had to take all the fun out of computing. Windows was such a beast. It was serious. All the software titles seemed to mean business. What a drag... Now, it's even worse with DRM and Microsoft's focus on the Xbox 360.

Then, I found Red Hat Linux 5.2, but couldn't figure it out. I upgraded to 6.0...still no luck with this thing, but I pressed on. But then...I discovered Mandrake 7.0. It had KDE and URPMI. I started to make sense of it all. My life has never been the same, since. I've pretty much left Windows far behind. Linux is so much fun. There's so much to learn - so much to explore.

I'm happily using PCLinuxOS after jumping around a few distros over the years. I'll never look back. I still miss my Apple IIGS, though!

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

More in Tux Machines

RPi-friendly home automation kit adds voice recognition support

Following its successful Kickstarter campaign for a standalone Matrix home automation and surveillance hub, and subsequent release of an FPGA-driven Matrix Creator daughter board for use with the Raspberry Pi, Matrix Labs today launched a “Matrix Voice” board on Indiegogo. The baseline board, currently available at early-bird pricing of $45, has an array of 7 microphones surrounding a ring of 18 software-controlled RGBW LEDs. A slightly pricier model includes an MCU-controlled WiFi/Bluetooth ESP32 wireless module. Read more

The Year Of Linux On Everything But The Desktop

The War on Linux goes back to Bill Gates, then CEO of Microsoft, in an “open letter to hobbyists” published in a newsletter in 1976. Even though Linux wouldn’t be born until 1991, Gates’ burgeoning software company – itself years away from releasing its first operating system – already felt the threat of open source software. We know Gates today as a kindly billionaire who’s joining us in the fight against everything from disease to income inequality, but there was a time when Gates was the bad guy of the computing world. Microsoft released its Windows operating system in 1985. At the time, its main competition was Apple and Unix-like systems. BSD was the dominant open source Unix clone then – it marks its 40th birthday this year, in fact – and Microsoft fired barrages of legal challenges to BSD just like it eventually would against Linux. Meanwhile Apple sued Microsoft over its interface, in the infamous “Look and Feel” lawsuit, and Microsoft’s reign would forever be challenged. Eventually Microsoft would be tried in both the US and the UK for antitrust, which is a government regulation against corporate monopolies. Even though it lost both suits, Microsoft simply paid the fine out of its bottomless pockets and kept right at it. Read more

Digital audio and video editing in GNU/Linux

  • Linux Digital Audio Workstation Roundup
    In the world of home studio recording, the digital audio workstation is one of the most important tools of the trade. Digital audio workstations are used to record audio and MIDI data into patterns or tracks. This information is then typically mixed down into songs or albums. In the Linux ecosystem, there is no shortage of Digital audio workstations to chose from. Whether you wish to create minimalist techno or full orchestral pieces, chances are there is an application that has you covered. In this article, we will take a brief look into several of these applications and discuss their strengths and weaknesses. I will try to provide a fair evaluation of the DAWs presented here but at the end of the day, I urge you to try a few of these applications and to form an opinion of your own.
  • Shotcut Video Editor Available As A Snap Package [Quick Update]
    Shotcut is a free, open source Qt5 video editor developed on the MLT Multimedia Framework (it's developed by the same author as MLT), available for Linux, Windows and Mac. Under the hood, Shotcut uses FFmpeg, so it supports many audio, video and image formats, along with screen, webcam and audio capture. The application doesn't require importing files, thanks to its native timeline editing. Other features worth mentioning are multitrack timeline with thumbnails and waveforms, 4k resolution support, video effects, as well as a flexible UI with dockable panels.
  • Simple Screen Recorder Is Now Available as a Snap App
    Simple Screen Recorder, a popular screen recording app for Linux desktops, is now available to install as a Snap app from the Ubuntu Store.

Kernel News: Linux 4.10 in SparkyLinux, Wayland 1.13.0, and Weston 2.0 RC2

  • Linux Kernel 4.10 Lands in SparkyLinux's Unstable Repo, Here's How to Install It
    The trend of offering users the most recent Linux kernel release continues today with SparkyLinux, an open-source, Debian-based distribution that always ships with the latest GNU/Linux technologies and software versions. SparkyLinux appears to be the third distro to offer its users the ability to install the recently released Linux 4.10 kernel, after Linux Lite and Ubuntu, as the developers announced earlier that the Linux kernel 4.10 packages are now available from the unstable repository.
  • Wayland 1.13.0 Display Server Officially Released, Wayland 1.14 Lands in June
    Bryce Harrington, a Senior Open Source Developer at Samsung, announced today the release and general availability of the Wayland 1.13.0 for GNU/Linux distributions that already adopted the next-generation display server.next-generation display server. Wayland 1.13.0 has entered development in the first days of the year, but the first Alpha build arrived at the end of January, along with the Alpha version of the Weston 2.0 compositor, including most of the new features that are present in this final release that you'll be able to install on your Linux-based operating systems in the coming days.
  • Weston 2.0 RC2 Wayland Compositor Arrives With Last Minute Fixes
    While Wayland 1.13 was released today, Bryce Harrington today opted against releasing the Weston 2.0 reference compositor and instead issue a second release candidate. Weston 2.0 is the next version of this "playground" for Wayland compositor technologies since the new output configuration API had broke the ABI, necessitating a break from the same versioning as Wayland.
  • [ANNOUNCE] weston 1.99.94